Fiji Rugby Union are thrilled to announce the appointment of New Zealander Vern Cotter as the incoming Fiji Airways Flying Fijians Head Coach.
The two-time Super Rugby and Top 14 Championship winner will take the reins of the Flying Fijians program upon finalization of his commitments with Montpellier.
Fiji Rugby Chairman Commander Francis Kean said the acquisition of Cotter is an investment and a coup for Fiji Rugby.
“Following an extensive recruitment process with many outstanding applications, the Board is pleased to have secured such an exceptional candidate in Vern Cotter for the top job of Flying Fijians Head Coach” said Commander Kean.
“Mr Cotter presented a thorough and detailed plan to take the team to new levels of success and we were impressed by his vision and expectations of what can be achieved by the programme.”
“We believe he will drive a culture of high-performance, fitness and discipline standards that are necessary to achieve success on the global stage.”
Currently based at French Club Montpellier, Cotter expressed enthusiasm for the challenge ahead and is appreciative and thankful to Fiji Rugby’s Board for giving him this great opportunity.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to coach the Flying Fijians and to be involved in the development of Rugby in Fiji” he said.
Having coached a number of Fijian players during his time in France including Nemani Nadolo, Nemani Nagusa, Napolioni Nalaga and Sitiveni Sivivatu, Cotter is looking forward to starting his new role and working with everyone at Fiji Rugby to continue to develop and strengthen the national programmes and talent.
“Fiji Rugby has come a long way in the last few years and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with the talent within the national teams and enhance the competitiveness of Fiji on the world stage.” said Cotter.
Vern Cotter commenced his coaching career two decades ago with the Bay of Plenty (NZ) where with Joe Schmidt as his Assistant, they won the Ranfurly Shield for the first time in the Province’s history and made the play-offs.
He was then approached by the Crusaders to coach the forwards and in his first year they made the final and he then was involved in them winning a Super Rugby title in 2005 and 2006 before he headed to Clermont in France.
At Clermont he turned the team around and they made multiple finals and won the Top 14 for the first time on their history in the 2009/10 season. Cotter also presided over Clermont winning 77 games at home which was and still is a world record within the professional game.
He was then approached by Scotland to be their Head Coach and was the most successful Head Coach of Scotland in the professional area with a (53%) win record which included wins against France, Argentina, Italy, Ireland and Wales. Cotter was the Head Coach for Scotland at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Hardwired for success and known for his straight shooting and technical-tactical approach, Chairman Kean says the new Head Coach is expected to ignite a step up in performance for the Flying Fijians as they progress towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
“It is no secret we were disappointed with the results from the 2019 Rugby World Cup and with the appointment of Vern Cotter, we hope to see the Flying Fijians produce the success we believe they are capable of achieving.”
“We are committed to support this new Head Coach with the resources he needs to manage a high performance programme that develops the widespread talent available, in order to progress Fiji Rugby, back up the world rugby rankings.”
“We look forward to welcoming Vern onto the island and getting down to business ahead of the July Pacific Nations Cup and test against Australia.”
Commander Kean said Mr. Cotter is expected to arrive in Fiji following the completion of his contract with Montpellier, in time to coach the Flying Fijians for first test scheduled against Tonga in Tonga on July 4, 2020.
“We hope he can get to us earlier than then, but this depends on the play-offs in France, and other matters.”
In his role, Mr. Cotter will also focus on coach development and succession planning through upskilling local provincial Coaches and, taking local Coaches such as Senirusi Seruvakula, Koli Sewabu, Kele Leawere, Inoke Male and Ifereimi Rawaqa under his mentorship to prepare them as potential successors for the Flying Fijians Coaching position.